Why Beat Saber is Worthy of the First Truly Global VR eSports Tournament

Alexis Macklin, Analyst Alexis Macklin, Analyst Analysis, Virtual Reality

Highlights
  • Virtual Athletics League, LIV, and SpringboardVR announced their intent to host a VR arcade tournament across 50+ VR arcades worldwide.
  • The dates and locations of the tournament have yet to be announced.
  • Beat Saber will go live on the SpringboardVR network the week of July 30 and priced at $.06 per minute
Our analysis

Even before launch, Beat Saber was a viral hit, with developer gameplay previews being shared across social media channels. When the game launched in May, it quickly became the top-selling VR app on Steam, and has remained so since then.

The excitement surrounding Beat Saber can be safely attributed to the game itself (rather than content or publisher partnerships, as the first title from a relatively unknown studio with a largely original score). The phenomenon surrounding it presents a unique opportunity to become the first VR esport with a mass audience.

The best proof of this is on video streaming. Beat Saber has about 36,000 followers on Twitch compared to the 2,000 followers of Echo Arena on Twitch. As of writing, there are currently 31 channels streaming Beat Saber gameplay on Twitch. The most telling metric, however, comes from YouTube. Other most watched videos of other esports have a lower amount of views compared to the number of the channel subscribers, meaning viewers are most likely watching to see the YouTuber, not the game. Not only does Beat Saber have the most watched video in the VR esports category, but the subscribers for the channel are about 2% of the number of views. Viewers are most likely searching for Beat Saber itself; the channel isn't driving traffic to the video.

Views on Twitch or YouTube do not directly translate to a success of an esport, but it is undeniable that it translates to being highly watchable. The biggest issue currently facing VR esports is spectator viewing. Broadcasting VR games can be complicated as some games do not have a spectator mode built in. Best practices for producing a live stream are still being written. Beat Saber has an advantage in having already established the best way to view, through mixed reality casting. The viewer can easily watch both the real-life player and the gameplay in one easy view.

Beat Saber may not have an immersive story or even come with recognizable songs, but the simple gameplay and recognizable mechanics are easy to understand, while still challenging to master. It is a game that can keep building on to itself with new songs/levels, which is why its community and following will continue to grow.

Become a Client today to read more about Beat Saber and the VR esports ecosystem in The Future of VR eSports Research Note.